Poorest two-year-olds missing out on free nursery places

Published on Monday, 17 February 2014 09:47
Written by Daniel Mason

New research from the Family and Childcare Trust shows a flagship government policy is failing in some areas, leaving over 30,000 – more than one quarter (26%) – of England's poorest two-year-olds without free nursery education.

The programme to give 40% of England's most deprived children high quality early education by September 2014 has not met its target. While 74% of these children have been placed in nurseries and with child minders, there are big differences between local authorities in the proportions of children receiving free early education.

In London just 51% of eligible children had been placed by November 2013. There are 37 local authorities where less than 60% of eligible two-year-olds had been placed by November 2014, of which 25 were in London.

Anand Shukla, chief executive at the Family and Childcare Trust, said: "This flagship policy is vital to the long-term outcomes of England's most disadvantaged two-year-olds and to close the attainment gap between more advantaged and disadvantaged children.

"We know this is a challenging ask but local authorities must deliver on this policy. They need to make sure that local children's centres are fully utilised and funded to provide the necessary places for the two-year-olds who are missing out.

"They also need to take advantage of the time-limited offer of grants and other support available to them from central government to expand provision."

Labour party response:

Commenting on news from the Family and Childcare Trust that 30,000 disadvantaged two-year-olds are missing out on the government's flagship 15 hours of free childcare, Labour's shadow minister for childcare and children, Lucy Powell MP, said: "This is further evidence that the government are failing the most vulnerable children and their families.

"Nearly a third of two year olds are missing out on the free childcare they were promised. Ministers pie in the sky plans for schools to take up the slack will not work as schools are already facing a primary places crisis.

"Labour's plans to extend free childcare for three and four year olds with parents in work from 15 to 25 hours will be a real boost for families helping tackle David Cameron's childcare crunch."

Sources: Family and Childcare Trust, Labour party

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